Fisking Terence Moore

Terence Moore wants the Braves to get Ken Griffey, Jr. If only it were that simple…and ten years ago. But, let’s walk through the argument.

Let’s try this again. After all, we’ve typed these words before, but never have they made more sense.

I’m not sure this it is true that “these words” have ever “made more sense”.

This is a low standard for rating an argument.

The Braves need a center fielder until their youngsters are ready, and veteran Ken Griffey Jr. loves Bobby Cox, the accomplished Braves manager, and Griffey’s Cincinnati Reds aren’t going anywhere soon.

I think Kenny Lofton, Tim Spooneybarger, and Bob Wickman are the only players in baseball who don’t like Bobby Cox.

The Reds did just sign Dusty Baker to a hefty multi-year deal, and pick up Adam Dunn’s option, so I don’t think the plan is dump veterans and rebuild.

Griffey is baseball’s cheapest superstar with a highly workable contract.

Griffey was a superstar. Now he is a good player with a propensity for getting injured. There is no time machine involved in this transaction.

I’m not sure what “workable” means, but I don’t see much much positive about Griffey’s current deal. He has one guaranteed year at $12.5 million and an option year of $16.5 million that can be bought out for $4 million. Supposedly, Griffey’s deal has a lot of deferred money, which further complicates the transaction.

He also lives maybe a seven-minute drive from the Braves’ spring complex in Orlando, which would suit the homebody Griffey just fine.

I don’t think there is an issue of Griffey wanting to play for Atlanta.

Get him. Well, the Braves should do so regarding the younger Griffey after they use some of the money they’ve saved from their Edgar Renteria trade to acquire a starting pitcher for a troubled rotation beyond John Smoltz and Tim Hudson.

If the money paid Edgar Renteria was enough to get a solid starting pitcher, then why did the Braves only get two prospects from the Tigers? And after that the Braves can trade Matt Diaz, Willy Aybar, and Jo-Jo Reyes for Joe Blanton and Danny Harren. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Wren is strikingly more personable than his predecessor, but they are similar in that they prefer not to discuss names in these situations. Even so, we can use Wren’s philosophies to narrow the Braves’ best option in center during the post-Andruw Jones era to Griffey… (emphasis added)

Mr. Wren, you just learned why John Schuerholz doesn’t talk to the media. If you don’t say what they want, some writers are so used to putting words in your mouth that they don’t even mind saying so in their columns.

…Griffey, the most legitimate slugger of his era with 593 career home runs and no hint of steroid issues.

What does “the most legitimate slugger of his era” mean? I thought he might have meant steroids, but he adds the steroids issue after the “and”. Sounds like being one of Britain’s loudest bands.

As to the “no hint of steroids” comment, why not? He hit a lot of home runs in the steroid era, that seems to be enough to condemn most players. Now, if Griffey is clean, then why can’t other players be assumed to be clean?

While that A-Rod guy, for instance, wants nothing less than $30 million a year from somewhere, Griffey is slated to make $12 million next season in the last year of his Reds contract.

I don’t think this is correct. At a minimum, he is guaranteed $16.5 million—$12.5 million plus $4 million buyout of 2009.

What does A-Rod have to do with this? He’s a far better player than Griffey, so why is it a surprise that he makes more money?

Plus, if Griffey is traded, the Reds would be required to pay approximately half of that amount.

I’m not sure if this is true. Even if it is, it does not make Griffey any cheaper to acquire. The Reds are quite aware that if they trade him, they will have to pay a huge chunk of his salary. This is going to raise their asking price. This means the Braves are going to have to give up more to get him. There is no free lunch here.

There also is every indication that he would defer a chunk of that amount to help his new employers strengthen other areas of their team.

How much more can he defer? Supposedly, he’s already stretched his payments until 2024.

Just like that, the Braves could have a Hall of Famer in waiting for virtually nothing.

I don’t think Griffey’s getting into the HOF for anything he does for the rest of his career, nor is he playing at his previous level. And it’s not like this is a secret.

“Virtually nothing”? Now it was pretty difficult to massage $16.5 million down to $6 million, but I don’t remember the part where $6 million approaches $0.

The Braves could have such a player for two years, maybe three, to help them on the field and at the box office. Then they could plug in one of their slew of rising choices. They have Brent Lillibridge, their Class AAA player of the year. They have Brandon Jones, owner of a collective 100 RBIs last season for two different teams in the minors. They have Jordan Schafer, 21, recently named the player of the week in the Arizona Fall League, and he is the league’s youngest player. They also have Gorkys Hernandez, a speedster just acquired as part of that Renteria deal with the Detroit Tigers.

My favorite part is how Griffey is going to be a stop-gap for two to three years before someone else is ready. This is the first we have heard in this column that Griffey is signed beyond next year (it’s hard to mention the option when you are trying to whittle down $16.5–29 million to “virtually nothing”). If Lillibridge was the Triple-A player of the year last year, why is he going to stick it out in the minor leagues for “two years, maybe three”? And since he’s not signed beyond 2009, I guess Moore anticipates signing Griffey to an additional year. Brandon Jones, didn’t he finish the year in Atlanta? What is he going to be doing for two-three years?

Again, Wren won’t discuss names, but would he grab an established veteran in this situation for the short term? “Sure. No question, no question,” Wren said. “Actually, that would be the ideal. In a perfect world, that would be the ideal.”

Just so you know, Wren grew up in southwestern Ohio cherishing the Big Red Machine.

His favorite player?

Ken Griffey Sr.

So, not only is this a good idea, but Frank Wren is probably going to do this.

8 Responses “Fisking Terence Moore”

  1. Johnny says:

    JC,
    Really why do you bother considering the source? Terrence Moore is a dunderhead who still has a job because he has a decent amount of readers that fall into 2 camps. Fellow dunderheads and guys like you and me that read his columns just to see what crap he is spewing at that moment. Ok I’ve answered my own question.

  2. Rick Klaw says:

    I love a snarky and intelligent blogger. Keep up the good work!

  3. Gordon says:

    “If the money paid Edgar Renteria was enough to get a solid starting pitcher, then why did the Braves only get two prospects from the Tigers?”

    The Tigers were trading for the right to pay Renteria his salary, so two prospects represents the difference between Renteria’s salary and his true value (or at least the Tigers’ perception of his true value). It doesn’t tell us anything about what kind of pitcher can be acquired for Renteria’s salary. The Yankees would gladly trade Jason Giambi and his $23M salary for a bucket of balls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good pitcher for $23M.

  4. David says:

    JC

    This is definitely the question I wanted to ask you when you were here. Can economics explain the persistence of terrible sportswriting? Or should we expect someone to come out with a book called “The Myth of the Rational Sports Fan”?

  5. JC says:

    Yes, what was traded was a property right to pay a contract. But it does tell us something about the value of players. I think Edgar’s contract reflects his true value, unlike Giambi who won’t play up to what he is owed.

    Moore is suggesting the Braves wanted a starter, so they dumped his salary on Detroit and can now sign a solid starter with what is left over. The problem is no other team thinks Edgar was worth that (otherwise Wren would have made the deal for a solid starter, right?) so the money that the Braves don’t have to pay Renteria probably won’t purchase the starter that the Braves desire.

  6. JC says:

    David,

    Good question, and my mind is too soft right now to put the proper thought into it. But let me give it a shot.

    I do wonder how some sports writers are allowed to be so sloppy. Moore is known for playing loose with the facts, and I am surprised he is not more careful. I mean, at least find out what Griffey is supposed to be paid if you are going to write an article about how cheep he is. My guess is that sports writers get so many complaints editors just learn to tune them all out. And I don’t blame them. When I worked for the Charlotte Observer sports page, I’d have people call up and yell at me all the time for the silliest of reasons. I was just a high school kid recording local scores, but I got the brunt of it. They would say, “are you writing this down?” I’d lie and say that I was, and then go back to reading my book while they blabbed on. Was this person’s opinion really going to affect our circulation?

    On the whole, I think sports writing is about selling what sports fans want. And I think though many writers make us mad, they do a pretty good job of entertaining us. So, it fits into the Caplan “Myth” world where we get sports writers who don’t necessarily get everything right, but it’s what the public wants. It doesn’t get checked because it doesn’t really matter if we are all entertained. It’s interesting that the theory of expressive voting is often described using sports fans.

  7. Gordon says:

    JC: The question is simply whether you can get a decent starting pitcher for what the Braves saved by dumping Renteria’s salary, which is $10M. That’s about the average salary for a starter these days, so in general the answer is yes. (Of course, the pool of available free agents in any given year may be limited.)

    What players teams are willing to trade for Renteria, however, tells us nothing about what kind of pitcher you can obtain for his salary. His trade value is his current market value minus his contractual salary (if current value isn’t higher, then he has zero value as a tradable commodity). If you’re right that Edgar is worth his current salary ($10M in 2008, $11 in 2009), then Detroit should not have traded anything for the right to pay him that salary. So we can assume Detroit thinks he’s worth more (and he clearly would get more in the FA market today).

  8. Jonathan says:

    “If you’re right that Edgar is worth his current salary ($10M in 2008, $11 in 2009), then Detroit should not have traded anything for the right to pay him that salary. So we can assume Detroit thinks he’s worth more (and he clearly would get more in the FA market today).”

    While, in this case, I do agree that “we can assume Detroit thinks he’s worth more,” I have to dispute the logical premise on which it seems to be founded: “Detroit should not have traded anything for the right to pay him that salary.” Even if Renteria’s actual salary is commensurate with his value on the open-market, the contractual right to pay him anything is as much a commodity as the contractual right to pay him his actual salary; therefore, a third variable impinges on the equation of a player’s “current market value minus his contractual salary”: the simple property rights, which fix both the player’s salary and term of obligation (and moreover mitigate a dimension of the market’s operation on his value).

    Thus, an important component of Renteria’s value to the Tigers is the fact that he doesn’t play for them, but is instead obliged to play for the Braves at a fixed price; this value is of course further informed by the player who does [project to] play for the Tigers at Renteria’s position. The fact that Renteria’s fixed price was (highly) amenable to the Tigers is not incidental, but his value to the Tigers is not solely derivative of it. Instead, more likely, it is the reason – along with the relative positional strength within their organization – why the Tigers dealt, in addition to Jurrgens, a prospect as valuable (on the trade market) as Hernandez.